The Gospel in 5D: Shalom Spreading
Today is installment four--and the centerpiece--in the series The Gospel in 5D. I repeat myself a bit from this blog's very first post, but oh well...if it's worth saying, it's worth saying again! Check out the past few posts to get the whole picture.
The Gospel as Shalom Spreading
Jesus commenced his ministry as an instrument of the Old Testament concept shalom when he entered the Galilean synagogue and declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
Shalom, I am convinced, is the character of the Kingdom of God. Where Jesus is Lord, there is shalom.
This word is one of the most evocative in all of scripture. Shalom exists when all people equitably experience peace and justice, a comprehensive rightness in the relationship between all things. It “can refer to a material and physical state of affairs” in which well-being, prosperity, abundance, safety, justice and peace are normative for the community (Shalom: The Bible's Word for Peace, Justice and Salvation by Yoder). We are provided examples of shalom through the healing, feeding, reconciling ministry of Jesus, in the sharing and mutually caring life of the early church (Act 2:42), and in the eschatological visions of the New Heaven and the New Earth (Rev 21-22).
Spreading these characteristics of shalom is what we think of as "mission."
Following after Jesus’ example as the “man for others,” the Church as bearers of the gospel are charged with the ministry of shalom spreading. Jesus taught that in caring for the marginalized members of society, we were loving him (Matt 25). Paul instructs disciples to “shod your feet with the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15). Shalom is a function of the two greatest commandments being worked out through the life of the Church: love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39).
Though not spelled out in concrete terms, this provides the Christian answer to the question: how do we bring about genuine transformation?
Shalom is manifested through love. However, we cannot be careless with the meaning of love, as it is an ambiguous term with as many meanings as there are people. Thankfully, we are not left in the dark. “In a number of different ways, the New Testament teaches that the central way Jesus revealed that “God is love” was by freely sacrificing himself on the cross. ‘This is how we know what love is,’ John writes, ‘Jesus Christ laid down his life for us’ (1 Jn 3:16, cf. I Jn 4:9)” (taken from a post by Greg Boyd).
Jesus’ love, and therefore the love which Christians are called to embody for the spreading of shalom, is shaped like the cross. Love is therefore a nonviolent methodology for the common good which extends itself even to the enemy.
No one describes the Jesus-way of shalom producing love better than Howard Thurman: “You must abandon your fear of each other and fear only God. You must not indulge in any deception and dishonesty, even to save your lives. Your words must be Yea--Nay; anything else is evil. Hatred is destructive to hated and hater alike. Love your enemy, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven” (Jesus and the Disinherited).